Canonical has released Ubuntu 19.10, whose code name is Eoan Ermine for some reason.
Ubuntu 19.10 is only supported until July 2020. The next version of LTS (Long-term support) will be on 20.04 next year. Companies that use Ubuntu in production may prefer to wait 20.04, for which 19.10 serves as a useful preview.
Based on the Linux 5.3 kernel, Ubuntu 19.10 comes with an updated developer tool chain that includes GCC 9.2.1 and most packages have been compiled with additional GCC hardening options enabled to improve security. The default desktop is GNOME 3.34.
Ubuntu is increasing its use of Snap packaging. Snap is a container technology designed for desktop applications. A Snap container has read-only access to system resources, but can be configured to have full permissions for its files and documents.
In Ubuntu 19.10, the Chromium browser is only available as Snap. This is because Chromium is updated every six weeks, and while a traditional deb package must be built individually for each version of Ubuntu, a Snap package is created once for each architecture (x64, arm64, etc.). Snap, therefore, allows faster availability of new versions, as explained here.
Ubuntu 19.10 is not offered for x86 (32-bit) architectures, but still includes some 32-bit libraries for compatibility reasons. Canonical initially decided to eliminate all 32-bit libraries, arguing that they are a maintenance load and less proven than their 64-bit equivalents.
Prominent software projects, including Steam and Wine, quickly declared that they could not support 19.10 from 32 bits. Support is needed for many applications, although sometimes only for configuration routines. Canonical then backed down, stating: "We will change our plan and create 32-bit i386 packages selected for Ubuntu 19.10 and 20.04 LTS." Last month, Canonical published a list of "32-bit packages that we promise to maintain," 51 runtime libraries that, with dependencies, total 244 packages.
Problem solved? Not at all. As the discussion of that list demonstrates, some applications that were run in 19.04 will not run in 19.10, at least, not without a chroot container or trick.
This is not all bad, as it can encourage developers to work to eliminate 32-bit dependencies. Similarly, users who value compatibility more than the new features in 19.10 should probably stick to 19.04 or alternative distributions.
New features on the Eoan desktop include more elegant support for USB drives (plug and access directly from the dock), WPA support and Xwayland application support (an alternative to the X protocol), but only when running as root. Nvidia drivers are now included in the installation media and have improved performance.
The ZFS file system is now compatible as the root file system, an option that we chose in our trial desktop installation without incident so far.
Ubuntu Server includes the new OpenStack Train Release, although the notes warn that "updating an OpenStack implementation is a non-trivial process"; We imagine that those who run OpenStack probably know. That said, Train includes live migration extensions, which means that running virtual machines can be moved between hypervisors.
Those who use Kubernetes for edge computing will benefit from better security in the MicroK8s package, which now includes strict confinement for total isolation.  Ubuntu 19.10 is available to download here. ®
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